While still related somewhat, Intel's Eric Anholt has been working on his direct GLSL IR back-end to eliminate different shader back-ends for Intel hardware particularly with their next-generation Sandybridge hardware coming out in the next few months and those IGPs integrated into the CPU being similar to their current Arrandale/Clarkdale parts but still different enough to otherwise cause some concern. Ian meanwhile has been working on generating GLSL IR directly from assembly shaders and from fixed-function.
As part of this work, Ian will be implementing the GL_EXT_separate_shader_objects extension shortly and has already hooked in the GL_ARB_explicit_attrib_location extension. Ending out Ian's message is word that:
It should be possible to move ir_to_mesa out of core Mesa and into a (lower) driver level. As has been discussed numerous times, the assembly-like IRs in Mesa (classic Mesa IR and TGSI) are completely useless for generating code for GPUs. llvmpipe has shown that they are also completely useless for generating code for CPUs. The various proposed GLSL->LLVM and LLVM->GLSL translation layers will allow these relics to die.
The important news though from this email message is that Intel expects to have the OpenGL/3D support in a conditioned state for their open-source Linux driver by the fourth quarter of this year. Intel has already been working on their open-source Sandybridge Linux support for a number of months with our first report about it coming back in February. It's even been since the Linux 2.6.34 kernel that there's been some Sandybridge kernel support. We talked more extensively about Sandybridge under Linux just last month in this Phoronix article.
This means we are now looking for the Mesa 7.10 release where the Sandybridge graphics support will be primed by year's end. For those planning to purchase this Intel hardware though right when it's released, it means you will need to build your own Mesa stack or use some third-party package repository since most Linux distributions shipping through year's end will be using the just-released Mesa 7.9 build. Mesa 7.10 will work its way into most stable Linux distributions in H1'2011.